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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs rally to win wild game- snap four game skid

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Back home for the first time in 6 weeks and desperate for a win, the Bucs outplayed the Cardinals and their rookie quarterback Kyler Murray when it mattered the most.

Rookie defensive back Jamel Dean picked Murray off at the Tampa Bay 8-yard line and the Buccaneers then went 92 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown in a wild 30 – 27 victory.

The Bucs had been away from Raymond James Stadium since September 22nd, including one “home away from home game” in London, England. Tampa Bay had dropped four straight to face the Cardinals coming in and first-year Coach Bruce Arians (above) going against his old team.

Arians coached the Cards from 2013-17, including two playoff berths.

Tampa Bay played well in the first half and took a 17 – 13  lead to intermission, when QB Jameis Winston hit O.J. Howard with a 10 yard touchdown pass with :08 to go in the second quarter.

Undaunted, Murray came out in the second half and hit Christian Kirk with a 69-yard bomb, his second TD catch of the day, and later another a 15-yard scoring strike for Kirk in the fourth quarter that put in Arizona up for the first time all day at 27 – 23.

The Bucs then gave away a chance to take the lead, when running back Ronald Jones fumbled the ball after a reception without being touched and Arizona defensive back Budda Baker recovered at their 44-yard line.

Murray had a chance to all but put the game away with the Cardinals leading by 4 and time winding down under five minutes. However, as they moved into scoring range, Murray’s pass was intercepted by the former second round pick, Dean. It was Murray’s first interception in over 200 pass attempts, which had set an NFL rookie record.

Then QB Jameis Winston led Tampa Bay on a 92-yard scoring march that included him hitting Chris Godwin for 49 yards on a catch-and-run.  Then, Mike Evans drew a pass interference penalty that critically put the ball down to the 1-yard line. Initially, there was no call on the field but the New York officiating command center reviewed the play and ruled the Cardinal defensive back had taken Evans down in the end zone.

Three plays later running back Peyton Barber rumbled in with 1:43 remaining to put Tampa Bay back in front for good 30-27.

Winston finished 30-48 for 358 yards 1 TD and 2 INTs and became the first Bucs QB in history to throw for 300 yards or more in four straight games.

Still, Arizona only needed a field goal to tie, but Murray could not get the Cardinals into range. This as, he was hit as he threw going deep left again to Kirk with :15 seconds left and the ball fell incomplete.

And then, on the final play of the game, he was looking long to WR Pharoh Cooper and the pass was broken up again by the rookie Dean to end it.

The Cards rookie #1 overall pick tallied 27-44 for 344 yards with 3 TDs but the costly INT, as well.

Tampa Bay improved to 3 – 6 on the season and will now play host to the New Orleans Saints at home next week Arizona drops to 3 – 6 – 1 with the defeat

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs DE Barrett basked in first Pro Bowl appearance Wednesday

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Off the best pass-rushing season in Buccaneers history, potential free-agent defensive end Shaq Barrett was soaking things in Wednesday in Orlando.

That’s where the NFC and AFC top players have congregated for the 2020 Pro Bowl coming Sunday.

Barrett, who set the Buccaneers single-season sack record with 19.5 this past season, ended up being the lone Buccaneer able to play in the game. This, after receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin have both had to bow out due to hamstring injuries.

Barrett got props on day one from one from Cardinals DE Chandler Jones, whom he battled for the sack title all the way down to the final Sunday of the season:

Barrett then got to hangout and sign autographs with the fans assembled at Disney’s Wide World of Sports. The sixth year player out of Colorado State, who was originally undrafted but signed with the Broncos in 2014, then told the media, he’s looking for a big-money free-agent deal. And, further, his preference is that he stays in Tampa Bay.

After all, Barrett surpassed anyone’s expectation in 2019, while playing for a modest one-year free agent deal and betting on himself to cash-in. And now, after his agent Drew Rosenhaus and Bucs GM Jason Licht are done, it appears he will be making in the neighborhood of $18-20 million per year just like the top pass rushers in the NFL.

The Bucs also have the possibility of putting the franchise tag for 2020 on Barrett which would also be valued around that same amount for just the one season.

One final cool moment came Wednesday, where Barrett got introduced to a young Buccaneers fan who’s enduring tremendous family hardship with one parent battling cancer and another suffering from the debilitating ALS disease. After signing an autograph for the young man, Barrett gave him the surprise of his young life with two tickets to next weekend’s Super Bowl in Miami:

And just like that fantastic reward, Barrett will soon be similarly rewarded for his fantastic year and upcoming potential. And most likely, it will be in Tampa Bay for a long time.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Bucs Evans got respect from LeBron James Saturday night

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Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

The new present day cliche’ for respect among athletes/opponents in sports is: “Game Recognizes Game.” And, there was a neat example of that Saturday night, as the Houston Rockets of the NBA hosted the L.A. Lakers. That’s when iconic NBA star LeBron James of the Lakers came over to acknowledge Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans in the seats behind him.

As you probably know, James is arguably the most recognizable and successful NBA hoops player worldwide in the last 10+ years. He’s a 15 time All Star, a four time MVP, and helped the Miami Heat win two World Championships. And, then came back to the Cleveland Cavaliers, who originally drafted him out of high school, and led them to the city’s epic first professional title in any sport in over 50 years back in 2016.

And, LeBron has the Lakers rolling at 34-8 with another win in Houston last night.

As for Evans, he is a Tampa Bay Buccaneers biggest offensive weapon and was having a tremendous 2019 season statistically until it was cut short with a hamstring injury in the Bucs early December win over the Indianapolis Colts.

That’s when Evans suffered a severe hamstring injury on a 61 yard touchdown catch from Jameis Winston and did not play another down in 2019. Still, he joined teammate Chris Godwin, as they both went over 1,000 yards for the season, which was the first time in Tampa Bay history that that happened.

Evans is also only the second player in league history, besides Randy Moss, to have 1,000 or more yards receiving in a season in his first six years in the NFL.

Further, it’s also well-known that Evan is a huge fan of the NBA and he’s originally from Galveston, Texas and play in college at Texas A&M. So, it’s only fitting that he would be courtside during the off-season and the Rockets game against the Lakers.

Evans has made mention earlier in his career that he had met and talked to LeBron James on previous occasions. One reason that Evans brought that up during the season, was his touchdown celebration dance when Tampa Bay outgunned the L.A. Rams in late September.

In that 48 – 40 win Evans caught this clinching fourth-quarter bomb touchdown from Winston and then, celebrated with LeBron James’s signature dance move

James has previously and frequently used that on the court after a big moment, a big win or a championship.

Again “Game recognizes Game,” and clearly James wanted to give some recognition to the Bucs star whiteout Saturday night courtside at his own game.

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